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Authors: Anisa Claire West

Deep Dish Lies

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Deep Dish Lies

 

 

 

 

 

Anisa Claire West

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction.  The names, characters, places, and events depicted in this book are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any similarity to actual people, either living or deceased, is purely coincidental.

Recipe for Becca’s Deep Dish Apple Pie

Deep Dish Pie Crust

5 Tart Apples

1 tablespoon of Sugar

1 stick of Melted Margarine

½ stick of Melted Butter

¾ cup of Sugar

1 cup of Flour

1 Egg

½ cup of Walnuts

Dash of Cinnamon

Drizzling of Caramel Sauce

Sweet Little Lies are optional. 

But not recommended…

Prologue

Buttercup Valley, Washington

A Rainy Afternoon in April…

I stared at the infuriating man with flames in my eyes and venom on the tip of my tongue.  The front bumper of my car was deeply bashed in, and one of my headlights was shattered.  Slamming the door, I flounced towards the insolent stranger as his piercing blue eyes challenged me unblinkingly.

“You’re a really bad driver, woman!” He bellowed, stomping towards me like a mating gorilla.

“Excuse me?” I squeaked indignantly as the chilled raindrops soaked through my spring jacket.  “
You
stopped short! This accident was
your
fault!”

“Listen, woman, you hit
my
car.  Meaning,
you
are at fault,” he said gruffly, running a frustrated hand through his rain-drenched dark hair.

If I hadn’t just been involved in a potentially fatal accident with the man, I might have found him very attractive.  Those blue eyes lit up the cloudy day like a raging forest fire.  But I was in no mood for flirting with a chauvinistic pig who kept referring to me as “woman.”

“Listen, let’s just exchange our insurance info,” I suggested with a shiver.  “I don’t want to get pneumonia standing out here in the rain arguing with you!”

I don’t know if it was from the biting cold or my biting tone, but the man recoiled visibly when I suggested exchanging our information.  A storm cloud overhead transformed from pale gray to ominous charcoal as he steadily backed away from me.

“Never mind,” he sneered, his sensuous upper lip curling.  “I don’t have time for this bull.  Just be careful how you drive from now on, woman.  Next time it could be a lot worse.”

Outraged, I watched as he clamored back to his black Audi and left me standing out in the pummeling rain.  With tires screeching at the shrill decibel of a dog whistle, the jerk rolled back into the storm as I trembled violently inside my jacket.  Fighting back insulted tears, I hopped into my car and slammed the door so hard that the rattling windows could have cracked the whole Richter Scale.

Chapter 1

5 Weeks Later

Deep Dish Delights Pie Shoppe

“Mmmmm, these smell absolutely divine,” Lori murmured, sliding a pair of Cling Peaches pies out of the oven.

“Don’t do that!” I scolded my younger sister as she dipped her finger into one of the pies to taste.  “I swear, sometimes it’s like you’re 12 rather than 28!”

She shrugged lightly, popping her finger into her mouth and mumbling, “This is a test pie.  We always have at least one test pie per batch, and Becca, honey, this is the one.” She winked and grabbed two forks from the cupboard.  “And just so you know, sometimes it’s like you’re 92 rather than 32!”

Halfway between a frown and a grin, I grabbed a fork from her and sank it deep into the piping hot pie.  “Oh wow, you’re right.  I think this is our best peach pie ever.  Even better than the blue ribbon one at the county fair last year if I do say so myself!”

“Don’t I know it!” Lori replied tartly, making a beeline to the freezer for a tub of vanilla ice cream.

“Just 5 more minutes of break time, Lori.  Then it’s back to work.  We have a ton of Mother’s Day orders to fill,” I said authoritatively.

“You’re right.  We’ve had a lot of requests for your Sticky Pecan pie today,” Lori muttered through a mouthful of syrupy peaches as she handed me a scrap of paper.

I sighed heavily, snatching the dog-eared paper out of her hand.  “How many times have I told you to put the orders on my pre-printed menu sheets?  We have a system around here, Lori!” As I picked up a whisk to playfully swat my scatter-brained baby sister on the rump, the chiming of bells in the front of the shoppe interrupted me.

“Customer,” Lori announced, giggling and shoving another truckload of our “test” pie into her mouth.

I shook my head as I made my way to the storefront, fretting over how many expensive ingredients had been wasted on “test” pies since I had opened my doors to the public two years ago.  But that’s what happens when you have your family work for you…everyone wants a piece of the pie,
literally
.

“May I help…” My words evaporated like milk as I recognized the dashing face of my customer.

He appeared equally shocked as he cleared his throat and shifted his weight from foot to foot.  “Um---ahem, could a man get a slice of pie and cup of coffee around here?” He asked with a disarming smirk.  “And hold the car accident.  Please,” he added sarcastically as my face reddened like cherry pie.

“Have a seat, sir, and I’ll bring you our menu,” I said with mock formality.  Inwardly, I was steaming and impatient to get the handsome creep out of my shoppe. 

“Thank you…what’s your name anyway?” He inquired, sitting with his legs spread wide apart and his hands splayed over tight denim jeans.

“Oh, so you’ve evolved from calling me ‘woman’?” I challenged as he looked me right in the eyes.

“I could start calling you that again if you’d like,” he quipped.

“My name is Becca,” I replied firmly, shoving a menu under his arrogant nose.

“And you’re a waitress?” He asked, unfolding the menu.

Hands on hips, I sharply protested, “No, I own this shoppe!”

“Calm down.  I was just teasing,” he said, decisively snapping the menu shut.  “So Becca, I’m an old fashioned kind of guy.  Just give me a slice of warm apple pie.  With a large coffee. Extra cream.  No sugar,” he dictated as I nodded and disappeared into the kitchen nook to prepare his order.  A minute later, I returned, setting the pie and coffee in front of him.

“You didn’t ask me
my
name,” he observed, sawing off a huge chunk of deep dish apple pie and shoveling it into his mouth.  “Holy crap this is good!”

“Glad you like it,” I said softly before turning to walk away.

“The name’s Marcus.  Marcus McCoy,” he called after me as his eyes penetrated my aproned backside.

I wondered why he was suddenly so eager to tell me his name when he had acted like I asked him to take a flying leap from the Golden Gate Bridge the first time I asked for his info.  Mustering a heaping dose of professionalism, I walked back to the man and shook his hand cordially. 

“Sorry, my hand is kinda sticky,” he said sheepishly, staring into my face with an intensity that disturbed me.

“It’s okay.  Sticky hands come with the territory around here,” I joked, eager to break free of him for reasons I couldn’t explain.  Nervously blowing my honey brown bangs out of my eyes, I put a few feet of distance between us as Marcus persisted to stare me down.

“You have beautiful blue eyes,” he commented sincerely as I resisted the impulse to declare,
so do you…

“Thanks…um, so enjoy your pie.  I have to get back to my baking now.  It’s a busy Saturday at the shoppe.  And tomorrow is Mother’s Day, so I’m swamped,” I rambled on before squaring my shoulders and quietly saying, “It was nice to meet you, Marcus.”

I could still feel his glimmering eyes shooting arrows through me as I tripped over my own feet on the way back to the kitchen.  Low chuckles and a maddening “Are you alright?” followed my mishap as I casually glanced around and gave him a curt nod.  He chuckled through mouthfuls of apple pie, suddenly choking and slamming his hand against his heart.  His cough turned hacking as he took a sip of hot coffee.

“Have some water!” I urged, rushing to the sink and pouring him a glass from the tap.

“Thank you,” he managed in a hoarse voice, all traces of arrogance obliterated from his finely carved features.  “Guess I chose the wrong gal to laugh at, and the pie gods are punishing me,” Marcus muttered as I replied with a genuine giggle.

“You’re darn right,” I asserted, tying my apron a little tighter around my waist and retreating towards the kitchen again.

“Who are you flirting with out there?” Lori asked, whisking a bowl of milk and eggs.

“I definitely wasn’t flirting.  But I think maybe he was,” I said with a shrug, returning to my station to bake another batch of Mother’s Day fruit pies.

“Then why didn’t you flirt back?  Don’t you think it’s about time you got over Dennis?”

“I
am
over Dennis,” I bristled at the name of my ex-husband.

“Not every man cheats and lies, you know.  There
are
some good guys out there.  Hey, I should know.  I’ve got one,” Lori boasted as she touched her tongue to yet another batter-dripping spoon.

“Stop tasting everything!  I think you must violate about 100 health codes a day with all the spoons and egg beaters you lick!” I chastised a little more harshly than I should have.  But I just couldn’t stand how she always managed to mention her dreamboat boyfriend/accomplished chiropractor, Lionel.  I wanted to tell her that he
was
a good guy…for now.  Just give him a few years…but that would make me the embittered divorcée, and I definitely didn’t covet that title.

“You’re always so tense, Becca.  I don’t know how your pies come out so sweet when you’re so sour on life.”

“I’m not sour on life.  Just on men,” I protested, rubbing my temples in circles as a headache threatened to assault me.

“What’s the difference?” She challenged, adjusting the preheat setting on one of our gourmet baking ovens.

“Just get back to work,” I snapped, switching on a food processor to blend some berries into a pulp.

Angrily, I watched the blades turn the frozen berries to mush.  Above the grinding of the machine, I heard a faint commotion by the storefront.  I perked my ears up as a sound like wood crashing into a wall traveled to the kitchen.  I gave Lori a troubled look as I sprinted out to the storefront to see what had happened.  Marcus was bolting out the door as my chair lay broken by the table where he had dined.  Shiny black leather on the table caught my eye as I realized that he had forgotten his wallet.

“Hey! Where are you going? You left your wallet here!  And you broke my chair!” I hollered, chasing him to his car.

“Stop right there! Put your hands up!” A burly man dressed all in black ordered, whipping a gun out of his pocket.

My breath and heart stopped simultaneously as I stared down the barrel of the gun.  My God, I was about to be shot.  Desperately, I thought of Lori in the kitchen, praying that she would stay safe inside but come close enough to see the horror that was unfolding so she could call for help.

“I said put your hands up!” The gunman shouted as a second man emerged from the back of the parking lot, also wielding a pistol.

Terrified, I lifted my arms above my head, glancing over at Marcus who appeared paralyzed with fear.  I didn’t have a moment to think or react as Marcus slid a knife out of his pocket and pressed the tip of the blade into my throat. 

“Don’t do it!  Put the knife down and let the woman go!” The first gunman yelled, audibly releasing the safety on his gun, letting us know with that soft click that he could fire the weapon at any moment.

“You’re not gonna shoot with this broad right next to me!” Marcus shouted, speaking for the first time since the altercation began in a voice that sounded sinister. 

“Please let me go,” I whispered shakily, trying not to tremble under the pressure of his knife for fear that the blade would slip and plunge into an artery.

The gunmen stood steadfastly with their weapons drawn but didn’t come any closer.  Keeping one arm locked around my neck and the other gripping the knife, Marcus dragged me to the passenger door of the car, shoving me in before crawling on all fours to the other side and jumping in just as the men began to fire.

He blasted the engine into action, cursing furiously and jackknifing the car into gear at an alarming speed as the men fired continuous rounds.  Miraculously, none of the bullets hit the windshield or tires, but I could hear one grazing and then bouncing off the bumper.  Recklessly, Marcus careened out of the parking lot, pumping the gas pedal from 20 to 60 miles per hour in the span of a second.

I fumbled with my seatbelt, too shocked and frightened to speak.  He tossed the knife over his shoulder into the backseat as I considered grabbing it and threatening him.  He must have read my mind because he muttered coldly, “Don’t even think about it.  If you value your life at all, just don’t even think about it!”

I nodded nervously and swallowed, feeling the bitter flavor of mortal fear churn in my stomach and rise up in my mouth.  Still cursing, Marcus cruised onto an eastbound road, constantly checking the rearview mirror.

“I think we actually lost them!” Marcus marveled in an excited tone that made him sound like a mad scientist.

“Wh-who are they?” I stammered, fighting back a wave of violated tears.

“I can’t get into that right now! Just stay quiet for me…”

“No, I will not stay quiet for you!” I retorted sharply, some of my natural stubbornness and strong will making a comeback.  “You just held me at knifepoint, and now you’re kidnapping me!  Where are you even taking me?  I have a right to know what’s going on!”

“Stop yapping, woman!  I can promise you I won’t hurt you…as long as you don’t try any funny business.  But that’s all I can promise you right now,” Marcus said in a slightly gentler tone as I rolled the window down a crack to breathe some fresh air.

“Close the window!” He commanded, his blue eyes blazing.  “If they catch up to us, they’ll still be shooting!  We need to ditch this car anyway.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked helplessly as tears cascaded down my cheeks.  I sniffled, furious with myself for showing vulnerability but incapable of holding back my emotions for another second.

“Oh man, don’t cry.  Please,” Marcus pleaded, taking his eyes off the road to glance regretfully at my blotchy face.

We rolled along at astonishing speeds for the next several hours.  The odometer teetered between 65 and 90 but never went lower.  Any thoughts I might have had of jumping out of the vehicle were banished by our consistent wild pace. 

“Watch out!” I screamed abruptly as a deer darted into the road from the woods off the highway.  Marcus grunted and curved the car jaggedly towards the right lane.  Disbelief radiated from my eyes as he boldly risked our lives to avoid hitting the animal.

“You just held a knife to my throat and now you’re worried about a deer!” I sputtered my wrath.

“Just hold on tight!” Marcus urged as the car tumbled off the shoulder of the road into a muddy embankment uncountable feet below.

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